Creative photography Projects: Tips and Ideas for Themes and how a Photo Challenge can Improve your Photos
Set yourself a challenge
Lets face it, being creative as a photographer isn't always easy and sometimes we all need a little inspiration to get our creative juices flowing. Setting yourself a specific theme as a photo challenge will force you out of your usual rut and you will start looking at everyday objects in a completely new light. By choosing a theme or a project you will focus your attention in one area and you will be surprised at how good the resulting photos will be!
There are two easy ways to get started. Either you pick a theme from the list below and start shooting, or you put a little more pressure on yourself by joining an official photo challenge group. There are several photo challenge groups available on the photosite Flickr and individual photo blogs also run weekly or daily challenges with various themes.
Joining a photo challenge can improve your photography in many ways as you will not only get inspiration from seeing how other photographers interprets the themes, but you will also receive honest feedback which will also improve your own photos.
'Pick a something' ideas
- Cars, planes or trains
- Abandoned and discarded
- sculpture & monuments
- A colour
- Churches & graveyards
- Shoes or people’s feet
- Dogs, cats, pigeons
Photography Theme 1: Pick-A-Something
Pick something, yes anything, and spend some time trying to get a collection of that thing. This is easily my favourite type of theme, for example - I’ve spent some time shooting photos of my own feet, my own shadow and abandoned furniture to mention just a few projects.
The upside of this is that you really do start looking at everyday subjects with new eyes, the downside is that you will feel a little embarrassed at times as people are likely to wonder why you’re crawling on the ground photographing bins or whatever your theme might be!
- Your Street
- Famous places
- The high street
- A hospital
- A zoo
- A new town
- A bus stop
- A dog park
- Pick a page in your map book
- Your childhood town
Photography Theme 2: Places, take a photo walk
A photowalk would usually involve a group of people walking through a city together shooting the same landmarks along the way. It doesn’t have to be this complicated though, you can easily challenge yourself and improve your photography by simply going out more.
Take the bus to a new town, a new park or a zoo and start taking photos. The idea is that the new environments will spark your creativity and widen your subject matters from that of your usual ones like family, house and pet!
Another version of this theme is to do the same walk every week and shoot whatever you find interesting along the way. By walking the same route along our local river several times throughout the year, I have shot everything from swans, to dogs playing and beautiful night lights being reflected in the water.
Groups to join
If you're looking for something a little bit more quirky then check out 365 days of your feet: As the the title states is your tootsies for one whole year. They can be in footwear, socks, stockings, bare, whatever.... but the focus of the photo must be of your feet.
Photography Theme 3: One photo a day; a week or a month
Here is a theme to keep you busy for a whole year, month or week! There are many variations of this project, but the basic idea is that you take a photo of something or someone every day for a year/month or week.
The most popular version is to take a self portrait every day and you would be amazed at how quickly you have to come up with some really creative ideas in order not to repeat yourself!
For those of you who have children or young animals, this could be a great photo project capturing your little ones growing up. Take the photo in the same location every time and you will get the best results as you will quite literally be able to 'see' them growing!
Photography Theme 4: Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts can be great fun. First you need to come up with a list of things to photograph, then you get a group of friends together and go out and interpret the list individually. There are many scavenger groups on Flickr, and you can get some really good ideas of things to put on your list there.
You can be quite creative with what you include in your list, you can have actual things like ‘road signs’, or conceptual items like ‘happiness’ or photography techniques such as ‘slow shutter speed’.
Capture them all
Photography Theme 5: Time of day
Most of us are either a morning or an evening person and our photography is likely to mirror this behaviour. Set yourself a challenge to photograph the same subject on all times of the day and notice what a major difference the light will make. Or simply choose ‘sunset’ or ‘sunrise’ as your theme and start shooting.
So - you want even more photo themes and projects?
Seasonal Photo themes: Christmas, Easter, Labour Day, Hallowe'en, Festival of Light, New Year's Day, spring summer, autumn, winter - try to capture the colours, textures and emotions that sum up the seasons.
Nature and Landscape Photo themes: Sky and cloud, water in motion (slow and fast shutter speed), weather, wild, outdoors, mountains & valleys, in the garden, flowers, trees, wood fog and mist. Try out macro photography and practice your compositions.
Shapes and visual Themes: Circles, chaos, repetition, contrast, symmetry, spirals, texture silhouettes and shadows